|Hannah Hanzen once said, "No,
I don't believe in women in politics, I don't believe in men
in politics, I believe in people in politics."
Born Hannah Dautoff in Portland, Oregon, Dautoff and her
siblings were raised by her widowed mother after Dautoff's
father died in Skagway during the Alaska Gold Rush. As a young
girl, Dautoff became interested in the law at age 10, when
she became convinced that her mother had been cheated by a
At 18 Dautoff went to New York City where she lived for
six year and was employed in a number of occupations, including
child care. She also lived for a time in Cuba, returning to
Oregon in 1920.
Having only an eighth grade education, Dautoff was admitted
to the Willamette University School of Law in Salem. Four
years later she graduated and passed the state bar examination.
Dautoff practiced law with her husband, Ivan Martin, an attorney
and former legislator, specializing in domestic relations.
"You'd be surprised how many people I talked out of getting
divorces," she commented. Yet her own first marriage
ended in divorce.
In 1932, she was the first woman elected to the Oregon Legislature
where she served four terms. During these eight years, she
became known as a spitfire who did her homework and was a
match for anyone. She recalled later that she "was never
looking for a fight, but...wasn't there to be stepped on,
either...The year and issues change, but people don't change
In 1942 she cracked another all-male stronghold when she
was elected Salem Municipal Judge, serving one term. Dautoff's
marriage to Harry Hanzen led her to withdraw from her legal
career, much to the disappointment of the police department
whose members were ready to campaign for her second term.
After retirement, Mrs. Hanzen served as president of the
Salem Women's Club, corresponding secretary of the Oregon
Federation of Women's Clubs, and Executive Secretary of the
Marion County Bar Association. She also was an instructor
at Willamette University.
In her senior years she enjoyed walking "at a Harry
Truman pace" and worked out with Indian clubs, a fitness
tool that was popular early in the 20th century. Hanzen stayed
vigorous through her participation with four senior citizen
Iin March of 1984, at age 90, she was smiling happily as
she posed with a birthday balloon for a photograph in Salem's
Statesman Journal newspaper. Mrs. Hanzen died in Portland,
Oregon on June 20, 1989 at the age of 94. She was survived
by her nephew, Boyd Davidson of that city, and Elspeth Alexander
Researched and written by Virginia Green
Duniway, David. " Hannah Hanzen" Panegyric,
Salem, OR: Mission Mill Museum, Volume IV, April 11, 1975.
(Note: Document courtesy of Marion County Historical Society,
Obituary. "Hannah Hanzen" Salem Statesman Journal,
June 24, 1989, Page 2b.